Schaumburg, Ill. — Dr. James F. Peddie leaves the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) with more than $20 million in reserves, remodeled Washington real estate and some of the lowest professional membership fees in the nation.
SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — Dr. James F. Peddie leaves the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) with more than $20 million in reserves, remodeled Washington real estate and some of the lowest professional membership fees in the nation.
Dr. James F. Peddie
The AVMA's Minneapolis convention marks the last time 65-year-old Peddie will stand before association leaders to air the group's fiscal health. Eyeing retirement, he passes his title to Indiana State Veterinarian Dr. Brent Marsh, now charged with handling AVMA finances.
"He's well qualified for the job; I really think he'll kick AVMA up to the next level," Peddie says. "Each officer has an opportunity to move the organization ahead and based on his experiences working with big budgets, I think he'll keep AVMA moving forward."
"Moving forward" is just how onlookers might characterize Peddie's six-year tenure with AVMA. The Ventura, Calif. veterinarian says he's particularly proud of the association's new Washington real estate. Located in the Central Business District, the white-brick row house that accommodates the Governmental Relations Division has earned thousands in equity since its purchase last year.
"That is something I felt very strongly about and pushed for," Peddie says. "We can turn around and sell that building right now for much more than what we paid for it."
Adding to the association's financial success, AVMA now invests in the open market, spending several million dollars in equities as well as stocks and bonds, Peddie says. The treasurer's annual report shows AVMA total assets at almost $38.8 million for 2004 compared to $34.1 million for 2003.
"We don't owe any money; we have a year's worth of operating expenses in the bank earning interest," he says. "I think we're in great shape."
Rise to the top
While the outlook for AVMA is bright, Peddie worries about future legal expenses associated with activist groups.
"You're always at risk for lawsuit, and we're in an area of pretty contentious animal welfare issues," he says. "We'll be stepping on the toes of powerful and financially wealthy organizations. Certainly philosophically, we're in direct opposition of them in some areas."
Membership numbers also could pose a risk, he says. While AVMA currently enjoys more than 85 percent membership rates and dues of more than $15 million last year, specialties threaten the group's high retention. It's a lesson to be learned from the American Medical Association (AMA), Peddie says.
"There's definitely a place for specialty organizations," he says. "But I hope they realize they need us, too. The AVMA has less than 30 percent of their professional pool. I hope we never see those kinds of rates."
As for Peddie's future, the former California Veterinary Medical Association treasurer, community college teacher and practitioner of entertainment industry animals has been elected to the Group Health and Life Insurance Trust (GHLIT) board. As a member, he's charged with overseeing activities of the AVMA trust. He also sits on the Western Veterinary Conference board.
While prestigious, they're not full-time jobs, Peddie says.
"Retiring is a really painful step in life," he says. "But I have a nice boat in Santa Barbara and plenty of fish to catch. There's no doubt I will miss AVMA. It's the people I've worked with who've made this a fun ride."